Sales management

Excel or CRM: What Should you Choose to Manage your Customer File?

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This is a question that often comes up: should you have a CRM or is Excel enough? Initially, Excel may be useful for managing your relationships with your customers, prospects, and partners. But, over time, when your business will grow, you will see that Excel will not be enough. This is the reason why you will need a more scalable tool: CRM.

Advantages and disadvantages of excel

Excel (or Google Sheet) is probably one of the most used tools. From the VSE to the large group, all companies appreciate this spreadsheet which allows centralizing all the essential data (contacts, sales, deliveries...). 
Moreover, according to a Capterra study, 24% of French SMEs use Excel to track their contacts. So, let's be honest, if Excel is so often used it’s because it offers concrete benefits:

  • Easy to use
  • Basic functions mastered by a whole range of people
  • The information available in a single file
  • No additional cost because Office licenses are often already implemented

However, Excel has its limits. And if it is sometimes nicknamed "the worst CRM tool in the world", it's simply because it hasn’t been designed for that purpose. Here are some illustrations:

  • A colleague has already opened the Excel file, you are on the “reading only” view while you need to add data. Excel does not offer you the opportunity to work simultaneously. Ok, this is not the case with Google Sheet. However, its features are very limited.
  • You just had several client appointments and you would like to keep track of your exchanges with them. It’s complicated, and you need to create several columns "Meeting 1, Meeting 2, Meeting 3...". Excel does allow you to follow the evolution of a contact.
  • The Excel file has been modified and an error has occurred. What can you do in order to recover the file history? It’s difficult because Excel does not handle changes tracking proficiently.
  • Your business is growing. You have more and more lines, more and more tabs in your Excel. You have mastered the art of PivotTable. But, as you have a large volume of data, your requests take a long time. The reason is that Excel is not scalable.

Thus, even though spreadsheets can be useful, they do not have the power of CRM software dedicated to Customer Relationship Management. If you have already been in at least one of the above situations, it means that you have reached Excel limits in managing your client file and it is now the right moment to move to CRM.

Excel vs CRM: the detailed comparison

Data entryManualCan be automated (import of contacts, ScanCard ...)
Link among all elements of the database (contacts, opportunities, complaints ...)With formulas and pivot tablesTransparent (in 1 click) with easy access to all information
Storing attachmentsImpossibleEasy with the possibility of linking them to contacts, companies, opportunities...
Modification historyExisting but not very preciseVery detailed and accessible on each CRM record/card
ReportingManual and with many steps (graphics ...)Reports updated automatically and at the desired frequency
Collaboration among colleaguesVery limited or nonexistentAccess to real-time information
Saving dataUnsafe (often locally)Secure (in the cloud or on dedicated servers)

Benefits of a CRM

Among all the benefits offered by a good CRM software, some cannot be compared to Excel as they simply do not exist in Excel. This is why you can find these useful features (non-exhaustive list) in this section.

Integration with IS and messaging

The CRM solution is at the heart of your information system. Then in order to have a 360 vision about your business, you need a sufficiently open CRM that communicates well with other bricks (business applications, messaging, ERP ...).

Project management

Shared calendars, the progress of a task, resource management... CRM is strong on this topic and increases the productivity of your teams.

Management and monitoring of marketing campaigns

CRM allows your marketing department to target the database according to the desired criteria in order to send a personalized email or SMS campaigns.

Workflows and rule engines

Much more powerful than Excel, CRM facilitates the automation of certain tasks to allow your teams to focus on the business with high added value. Thus, for example, “a level 2 customer complaint” is automatically sent to the expert service.

Ergonomics adapted to your needs

This is one of the main criteria to choose when you want to deploy a CRM project. Choose the solution that perfectly meets your needs: responsive design, limited mobility fields, management of access rights ... We are far from Excel features, aren’t we?

Conclusion: Excel and CRM, an unfair confrontation.

Beware of the “false simplicity” of Excel which will quickly show its limits and will not adapt to your growth. On the contrary, a good CRM software will accompany you with ease. Whether you are a small business, an SME or a large group. Whether in the office or on the move. Whether you operate on a B2B, B2C or B2B2C market. In short, adopt the CRM!

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